The slow road back to normality

20150313_bigWhere to start …. ‘wow, what a week’ … doesn’t quite seem to cut it really! 🙂 I guess it’s fair to say we were in a bit of a state of shock on the Friday/Saturday following the evacuation notice/snow-storm and then of course, having no electricity, phone/Internet just put the icing on the cake. We began packing but were so distracted by inner thoughts that we seemed to have no direction or purpose – stuffing all manner of things in bags willy-nilly. Honestly, looking back now I think it was more like Shaun of the Dead meets Supermarket Sweep! The word on the grapevine was that power would be anything up to a month as so much of the infrastructure is down. In the end the region has poured in loads of industrial generators to power groups of homes – ours went online at 18:30 Wednesday evening, so that’s at least 6-8 happy families in our neck of the woods!

Today we took a drive out in the sunshine and popped in to the machine shop to see if Gabriele could knock up a part for the Capo – ready tomorrow afternoon he shouted cheerily over the generator running full tilt outside the workshop door. You can’t keep a good workshop closed for long! On the way we saw first-hand more evidence of the damage to trees, power and telecom lines, and also the speed the system gears up to get services back on line – generators being installed or chugging away merrily on a street corner, a fleet of trucks loaded with new poles heading inland, cherry pickers and workers buzzing around pylons and substations.

The word in the media seems to suggest that this was the worst the region had experienced since the 1950/60’s and that two villages 40 minutes drive south of us may have broken the world record for snowfall ….. over 100 inches (2.5m) in 18 hours, apparently that’s more snow than Boston had in Jan/Feb! Here’s a couple of links:- (Italian) (USA)

And finally …………..

Unfortunately these kind of events have a knock on effect ………… and that means for the forseeable future there will no longer be any Caponord/Futura dashboard repairs until life returns to some semblance of normality, sorry folks.

End of the Road?

Abruzzo landslide March 2015 - road closedWe’ve had a bit of a rough start to 2015 in the Abruzzo region, well actually that’s not true ….. it goes back to the tail end of 2013! That’s when we had the first of the terrain-changing rain and snow fall. The following months seemed to fair no better, with higher than average rainfall throughout 2014, so much so that the Olive fruit fly thrived in the humid conditions and the Olive harvest crashed into a national disaster. We all so wanted 2015 to fair better ……

…… alas that hasn’t been the case. More rain and snow has seen numerous landslides throughout the region – our own road included. Only a few kilometers away in Civitella Casanova 45 people have been evacuated and homes destroyed because of land slippage. Roads are closed all over the region and teams of specialists have been drafted in by the authorities to help deal with the situation.

But it seems life has one more kick up the arse for us ……. yesterday was sunny, almost 20c with a light breeze. Today is 2c with heavy snow and winds forecast to possibly top 100Km/Hr Abruzzo landslide March 2015and it will last 48hrs, with another 48hrs of rain following on. Of course that’s only the start of it, any extra damage will be slow and insidious over the following weeks as the already saturated land tries to absorb the extra water ….. my gut feeling is that it won’t cope, it’s already at capacity and that can only lead to more landslides.

Valentino RossiMelodramatic? Maybe. But two weeks ago we were told that the authorities were considering re-locating use. We got a reprieve because we have no kids or elderly here, nor do we require regular medical attention plus none of the damage was within a few hundred meters of our home.

I have to say, we’ve had better weeks. But then out of the blue, life has a way of throwing you a bone, a little something to bring a smile to your face. In this case a snappy supplement cover of ‘Saint Valentino’! Reading that mag over a hot brew and suddenly things don’t look so rough ………


Seconds after hitting the ‘publish’ button the phone rang ….. guess what, they were serving an evacuation notice on us in the middle of a raging snowstorm. I honestly can’t think when Jan and last felt so low ….. me, I just want the Capo out of here …. and us with it.

The Fissure King

Civitaquana, Abruzzo - Cda di Ginestre road (strada) subsidance & landslideWhat good is a motorbike or a car for that matter, if you don’t have a road to run along?

About 10 days ago Jan and I went to do the weekly shopping and I must admit I was already starting to get a little nervous about movement within the road – In one particular place the Range Rover was beginning to bottom out bodywork even when on its highest suspension settings and the traction control was starting to make itself useful when hauling us up the slope.

The next evening after walking the dogs and eyeing the recent movement and ever bigger crack in the adjacent field, I felt very uneasy …..

….. with the dogs tucked up for the night I grabbed the keys and decided to move the car beyond the bad section. In the end it took 3 attempts to clear it, but the good old Rangey did brilliantly with the traction control working overtime as it clawed its way over. That was it then – no going back. Life would be different for the forseeable future for sure.

That was over a week ago ….. since then the land has moved something like 2m down and 3m sideways with more cracks and fissures appearing across its width, soon the road will have separated completely with a section about 30m long moving inevitably down into the valley below.

The reality of our predicament is sinking in …. moving anything, shopping, gas cylinders, rubbish bags etc has to be carefully thought through. Each item has to be carried by hand over ankle-breaking terrain up (or down depending on which way you’re going!) a 200m stretch of steep road that is changing every 24hrs.

The fact is, this road doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to the Comune (Council) and as such they have responsibility over it. It’s not like this problem is new either, in fact we were promised it would be repaired and resurfaced throughout 2014, it wasn’t and now the problem is a magnitude worse. Unfortunately all I can say is we’re disheartened by the lack of response to our emails and phone calls for assistance over the past week.

So until something spectacular happens it gives me time to dream up new and novel ways to free the Capo from its incarceration …… zip wire over the valley, kids balloons tied together (I’ve seen ‘UP’) or turn it into an X-2 Skycycle and fly the bugger out!

Anyway until then, chin up ….. and do what Brits do best in a crisis



Snow fun at all …..

The first storm hit sometime during the Thursday night, the 2nd of February. We woke to the usual picturesque scene, the one that makes you go ‘ahhhh’, then run for the warmth of the kitchen and a hot mug of tea. All day it swirled and battered home and countryside, nothing flew, trotted, hopped or drove that we saw.

At approx. 17:30 our ethereal internet and phone connection to the world outside was unceremoniously cut. Nothing but a deep unwelcoming silence, while the storm raged a little harder just to emphasise our isolation a little more. Over the next 11 days we were to be subject to more snow and blizzards, periodical broken by a splash of sunshine. The first break in the weather gave me a chance to try for the main road ….. two days and three sessions of digging saw the Rangey finally hit tarmac. On Wednesday the 8th, I pulled a sled with Jan’s suitcases up to the old house and the waiting car. We had an uneventful trip to the airport, where I sadly waved Jan off to the UK. Now it was just me and a bunch of hungry animals, time to do some shopping on the way home. Stocked up I drove back to the house and parked the Rangey up in the driveway thinking the worst was now over.

The blizzard that started the following night was as unexpected as it was intense. 36Hrs of  battering  by raging turbulent wind and unrelenting snow … the road disappeared completely under undulating drifts over two meters deep in places, while upstairs windows vanished as the snow clung onto the strained roof below.  Once again, the Rangey had to be helped out on a couple of occasions, but I can’t complain when it only gets stuck in snow that’s deeper than the bonnet!

On the afternoon of the 11th day, the phone and internet came back, our little slice of Italy was neatly plugged back into the daily routine of planet Earth.

What’s the old saying ….‘stop the world I want to get off’? We did for a while, but it sure is nice to get back on again!

So a couple of quick phone calls to let people know I’m doing fine and catch-up on current events. Seems the whole region went dark that Friday night when a tree down by the river, unable to cope under the weight of snow took out the main phone line.

Oh, and one last thing ……. ever heard thunder during a blizzard? I hadn’t until now, seems the snow attenuates the sound so you only hear it when its less than a mile or two away. And its official name – thundersnow!


The good, the sad and the rather wintery!

A week of highs, lows and extremes I guess. You may remember the post  ‘Strada Brutale!’  – the tale of our woes trying to get our road resurfaced. Well after a three month rest, the Comune has got the ball rolling again, or more correctly, the man in a digger. A subsurface layer and a nice white topping of Breccia ( white stone) make our road positively glisten in the sunshine ….. the calming crunch of gravel under tyres replaces the squelch and dribble of liquid mud, how delightful. Note to self: Stone = fit Capo radiator guard!!

Have a look at the nifty before/after picture below … click on the vertical bar and then swipe it left or right to see the two-photograph overlay. If you only see the text … hit ‘refresh’, the pics should magically appear!


Pictures taken in July and December 2011

Then the low …. I recently posted about the virtues of Altberg boots and their refurbishment service. Well as of the 7th December 2011, the service has stopped. I got an email on the 10th … now I’ve got a pair of boots sat in a box fit for nothing but door-stops. I do think a heads-up in advance would have been nice, I could have got them in the system before it closed down. Sad to say, minus-one for customer service on this one Altberg. UPDATE 14/12/11:  Just had a reply to my email to Alberg. An in-depth explanation regarding the withdrawal of the service…. in a nutshell, a service run at a loss and sadly abused by a minority with unrealistic expectations about what a refurbished boot should be. A very sad choice to make, but understandable in the circumstances. Bullying isn’t only rife in the playground it seems – and the new weapon of choice is vilification by social media when their unreasonable demands are challenged. I think the email I’ve just received is the one that should have been sent initially …. a clear concise explanation that as disappointing as it is, I understand. I for one will still be 100% behind Altberg when it comes to the next pair of boots!

Extremes? Well it’s been bloody windy! Yesterday was a taste of weather to come I fear, while today is blissfully sunny and calm. Next week looks like we’re set for a liberal coating of the ex-UK weather currently rumbling across Europe – snow, high wind and plummeting temperatures! What fun. So woolly hats and snow shoes all round … and a nice warm blanket for the Capo!

Well I guess that’s almost the end of 2011, I trust it was a good year, taking your Caponord to some seriously far away places. Winter is traditionally the tinkering-time, so have fun on the spanners and I hope Santa brings you just the right shiny/twiddly bit you need to set your Capo up for 2012.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Where’s Noddy?

We had a little treat the other day ….. the Pescara Fiat 500 owners club came to town! Yep, on a sunny Sunday they beeped, tooted, moo’d and blew bubbles (I kid you not) as they pottered around Civitaquana.

We wandered through the usual chaos and snapped a few pics of the weirdly modified and wonderfully restored – every one a testimony to the love, dedication and skill of the families that own them. The local bar laid on snacks and drinks for them and in the afternoon they held a time-trial around the local villages. As they dashed off into the countryside we settled down for a beer, or two, or three ….. we weren’t exactly sure if they’d be a few minutes or a couple of hours. Sadly, the little buggers are quicker than you think and in no time at all they started to return, damn! I really was looking forward to that second brew…..

…..maybe next year!

A few more pics…